Celebrating the work of volunteers in ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums

Many of ZAAs accredited zoos and aquariums rely on the work of passionate volunteers to perform crucial roles and tasks around the zoo/aquarium. They put their hearts into animal welfare and conservation and make a meaningful difference to the zoos and aquariums that they volunteer for. In recognition of their hard work, we want to introduce you to some passionate volunteers from ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums.



National Aquarium of NZ - Luke Blair

Luke Blair has been volunteering at the National Aquarium of New Zealand for the last 13 years. Currently, he comes in twice a week for half a day each time. His main job is washing and cleaning filter bags which is crucial to the filtration of exhibition tanks, sometimes helping with the collection of the bags as well. He says his favourite things to do are helping and going behind the scenes.  He has also helped feed their little penguins, kiwis and even swam with sharks.

“Luke is very happy coming here and is a big part of the National Aquarium family.  We appreciate him and always enjoy his presence.”


Dolphin Marine Conservation Park - Marija

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park recently hosted Marija, who came up from Sydney for two weeks of volunteer work experience. Staff at DMCP received wonderful feedback from Marija about her time at the Park.

"I was fortunate to complete two weeks' work experience at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park to broaden my skills with marine animals such as seals, dolphins, penguins and turtles. This experience has been truly amazing, from fish preparation and feeding to cleaning and rehabilitation. I also studied and observed these incredible animals' health, welfare, and behaviours. Thank you to the team for this opportunity and for inspiring me to further my studies!"

The Park's rescue and rehabilitation group, Dolphin Marine Rescue, would not be able to undertake important rescue and rehab work without the help of its dedicated volunteers. A huge thank you to all those who give their time and effort to the injured animals at Dolphin Marine Rescue.

Taronga – Will

For years, Will's special skills made the Top Plaza seating and the plush toys in shops look like artwork! He has a passion for symmetry and exactness and his efforts are always well received at the café and in retail shops. Since leaving school at the end of last year, Will can now volunteer on weekdays and his roles and skills are now being extended. He makes enrichment items like herbal tea ice blocks and counts stock in the education stores.

“We are proud of Will and his effort and development over the years and believe he shows how special Taronga can be to all of us!”


Perth zoo - Lesley Wall

Lesley Wall has volunteered her time as a Perth Zoo Docent for over 21 years.  She joined Perth Zoo Docent Association in 2000 adding to her busy schedule of volunteering with the WA branch of the Native Orchid Growers and Riding for the Disabled.

Behind the scenes, Lesley has been part of both the Behavioural Enrichment and Animal Care Teams.  She has committed time to prepare behavioural enrichment material for animals such as Orangutans, Lesser Primates, Elephants, Painted dogs, Meerkats and Sun Bears.  As part of the Animal Care and Horticulture teams, she assists with tasks including weeding, watering, animal observations and food preparation.

Lesley was instrumental in setting up the Storytelling team of Docents who read conservation-based stories to visitors at Perth Zoo events. She was also a long-term team leader and presenter for the Zoo to You program, a speakers program aimed at spreading Perth Zoo conservation messaging to interested parties.

“Thank you to Lesley for your years of dedication to conservation at Perth Zoo as a Docent."



ZOOS SA - Anne Barnett, Jackie Roads, Janet Lowe and Katie Arch

A team of dedicated volunteers at Monarto Safari Park have finished over 10km of feral-proof fencing around the park’s new Wild Africa precinct. Since February, the project has been led by retired police officer volunteers Janet Lowe and Jackie Roads along with Murray Bridge local, Anne Barnett. “When we started this project, I doubt any of us realised what a mammoth task we had ahead of us but we’re three determined women,” Anne said. Recently Katie Arch joined the Wild Africa team making it a four-woman team. Janet said, “the women-led team love a challenge and it was the team that made working on the fence such a pleasure.”

Volunteer Manager, Nikki Marcel, said finishing the fence is a massive achievement and it wouldn’t have been possible without the volunteer team. “Zoos SA relies on our 460 volunteers to get things done and achieve all that we can within such a small budget as a not-for-profit.”

Mandai Wildlife Group- Steven

Steven moved to Singapore in 2010 with his wife Betty and together, they joined the Mandai Wildlife Group as Docents in 2014. In 2018, Steven took up an additional role as a Volunteer Keeper with the Avian team at the Jurong Bird Park and has been volunteering in dual roles ever since. While guest engagement duties were suspended due to the pandemic, Steven continued to volunteer with their animal care team. In 2021 alone, he committed a whopping 360 hours, assisting the animal care staff to take care of their avian collection.

“We are very grateful for his dedication and support throughout the years.”



Rockhampton Zoo - Elise Moffat

Elise has volunteered at Rockhampton Zoo for two years, assisting keepers with making enrichment, food prep, enclosure servicing and dingo walking.

The activity she enjoys most is anything to do with the dingos, as they are her favourite animal and she also loves the otters. Elise finds that the most rewarding aspect of volunteering at Rockhampton Zoo is working with a team of like-minded people who care about the animals. She finds it a really special place to be.

Elise undertook a student placement at Rockhampton Zoo in 2019 for her university course and loved being here so much that she came back to volunteer regularly. She has recently completed her Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biology.

Taronga - Ian Lau, Helen Jones and Judy Szittner

Ian Lau volunteers for Taronga’s free-flight birds experience every Thursday. Ian commenced his time with Taronga when undertaking his Certificate III in Captive Animal Studies. During that time, Ian had placement on free-flight birds and it was clear that he is a hard worker and has a lot of potential. Ian expressed interest in free-flight training and was offered a volunteering position. Ian will soon be assisting the Free Flight bird team by securing the Black-breasted Buzzard after the hawk has demonstrated its unusual ability to crack open emu eggs.

Free Flight Birds also has a small team of volunteers that assist with bush regeneration around the site. The team currently comprises of Helen Jones and Judy Szittner.

“Their passion for maintaining our area and ensuring our native plants have the opportunity for regrowth is extremely appreciated.”

National zoo and aquarium Canberra - Sue Fallon

“A very familiar face to all staff, volunteers and even our visitors, Sue Fallon works tirelessly every day for conservation in ways that many wouldn’t even expect. “

Sue has been a volunteer at the National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra for many years and has a passion for recycling. She encouraged the zoo to put in dedicated soft plastic bins that Sue collects 3 times a week. So far, she has saved around 4.2 tonnes of soft plastic that would have otherwise gone to landfill in three and a half years!

Sue also Sue has raised more than $40,000 for a variety of wildlife charities and causes through the ACT Container Deposit Scheme Return-IT programme. For each bottle collected, she received 10c meaning over 400,000 bottles had been collected for wildlife. They now have a target to reach $50,000 raised by August!

Sue has inspired the whole community through her work and commitment to preserving our planet into the future. “She has now even recruited a team to help her with her mammoth collection efforts! We are very excited to see this programme grow into the future.”

Auckland Zoo - volunteers prove lifesavers during Covid pandemic

“When asked to write a spotlight on just one of Auckland Zoo’s 150 volunteers – it was an impossible task. Ranging from 16-90 years old, each and every one of our volunteers are critical to the fabric of our organisation and are a valued part of our zoo whānau ( family).”

Tāmaki Makarau Auckland spent the last half of 2021 in a three-month lockdown ( with the zoo closed to visitors) and following this, tight restrictions on how the zoo opened and operated. So many of their volunteers stepped up during this period to help them - making masses of fabric masks for their essential zoo workers, cutting and collecting grass daily for their ectotherm and bird species and providing moral support, optimism and fascinating stories through their weekly staff and volunteer newsletter.

As Auckland Zoo reopened to the community, so many volunteers were eager to return to the zoo, and did, despite many having their own lives and jobs impacted by COVID-19. “We are delighted to see this invaluable crew in red out and about every day engaging our visitors and being shining examples of delivering our mission to bring people together to build a future for wildlife.”



Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – Three volunteer programs

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has three main Volunteer programs with over 450 valued volunteers. The volunteers provide great experiences, welcome guests, help with animals and help support the team's conservation vision.

“Our volunteers are Conservation Champions helping us immensely in our mission to support and care for Australian native wildlife and some exotic species through our conservation projects and Wildlife Hospital.”